Fire And Smoke-It Contains More Than You Know!
Fire and smoke damage after a fire cause more than just ascetic issues. The smoke can permeate through walls, ceilings, floors and contents leaving behind certain chemicals that can cause severe health issues and even death. So, what is in smoke that makes it so harmful? Smoke is the the left over “fuel” that didn’t burn. In studies of wood smoke conducted by the EPA they found carbon monoxide, methane, VOCs, formaldehyde, benzene, acetic acid, formic acid, toluene, oxides of nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, organic carbon, and even traces of heavy metals.
However, fires in homes are not just of wood but include – plastics, fabrics, chemicals, and other construction materials. These produce a range of toxic off-gases, as well as complex odors. Synthetic odors are generated by burning plastics and synthetic textiles. This form of residue is typically black in color and smudges easily.
In addition to creating toxic indoor air quality, fire and smoke can also cause severe structural damage to the building. Due to the ability for the fire and smoke to create extreme heat, visible damage may not be present even though structural integrity of areas like the foundation, floor hoists and load bearing framing may be impacted. It is always recommended after a fire to have the fire department assess the structure for safety before entry.
For tips on fire prevention and preparedness visit the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website. http://www.nfpa.org
This article was contributed by the Public Education Sub-committee: Steve Levy, Caroline Blazovsky, Brian Karr, Corey Levy, Mark Levy and Al Rabin.
Indoor Air Quality Association
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